Defeatist budget will do deep damage to key services - Sue Webber

Chancellor Jeremy HuntChancellor Jeremy Hunt
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt
Tuesday was a depressing day, sitting in the Scottish Parliament powerless to stop the SNP and Greens approving Finance Secretary Shona Robison’s defeatist budget, which will do deep damage to key services, not preserve them as she claimed.

It takes some cheek to stand up, as she did, and claim to be defending the health service at the same time as blocking investment in vital facilities which are crucial to shrinking the ever-lengthening waiting lists for treatment.

This is not about turning the NHS into something it has never been, but just about trying to get back to where it was before Covid. It wasn’t great in 2019 by any stretch of the imagination, but my goodness it was an awful lot better than it is now.

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As far as the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion (PAEP) is concerned, people losing their sight would dearly love the hospital to be in the same condition as it was over ten years ago, before it was declared unfit for purpose. If the two ferries that have never sailed are the embodiment of the SNP’s industrial and economic failure, then the crumbling PAEP is a monument to the SNP’s shameful neglect of key health services in the Lothians.

Seventeen years of SNP government in Scotland has left us with the lowest standards in education anyone has ever known, an epidemic of violence in schools, roads which are undriveable and a serious threat to cyclists, and a police force at breaking point. Yet with nearly £60 billion at her disposal all Shona Robison can do is deflect responsibility and wait for an excuse to blame UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, after his budget on March 6.

It simply isn’t good enough and judging from what I hear from my constituents, the public is sick of the SNP’s blame game and their refusal to take responsibility for the negative impacts of their choices.

We know the SNP is disintegrating into factions, as seen by Inverness MSP Fergus Ewing’s suspension this week for having the courage to oppose the Greens, but with a General Election coming up it doesn’t matter if SNP candidates have a reputation for rebellion or not, they still represent a party which has institutionalised division and done its best to turn Scotland into a failing nation.

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Edinburgh South West has been represented by the SNP’s Joanna Cherry since 2015 and as much as I agree with her on gender recognition reform, she still represents an endorsement for a litany of failure in the name of separation.

That’s why I decided to stand against her because it needs someone truly embedded in the community to oust the SNP. I know my party is not having the easiest of times in the south, but here the election is all about the SNP because First Minister Humza Yousaf has promised to put independence at the top of his manifesto.

Sure, some will agree, but many more do not and want their politicians to get on with addressing their priorities. And that needs politicians whose first priority is not stoking up constitutional rancour for the sake of it. Those days are gone now, as we sang at Murrayfield on Saturday, and in the past they must remain. And we certainly need to be the nation we were again.

Sue Webber is a Scottish Conservative Lothian MSP